Sunday, April 17, 2011

Record Profits, Little Job Growth for Silicon Valley Companies b/w Library Branches Likely to be Open Fewer Days

SV150 see most profitable year in history. (San Jose Mercury News, 4/17/2011)

Excerpt: Roaring back from the Great Recession, the 150 biggest public companies in Silicon Valley had their most profitable year in history in 2010, as their combined stock value climbed to the highest level since the Internet boom of 2000.

Revenue and profits soared as consumers flocked to buy new handheld gadgets, while corporations and public agencies resumed buying hardware and software to handle a rising tide of digital data -- from emails, tweets and videos to all manner of online transactions and Internet search results.

Those trends drove tech sales and profits higher than they were before the downturn of 2008 and 2009. For companies on the Mercury News' SV150 list, combined sales for the past four quarters rose 20.3 percent from a year earlier. Combined profit skyrocketed 78.6 percent. The list comprises the 150 biggest public companies, measured by revenue, that are based in Silicon Valley.

Companies responded by significantly boosting their spending on research and development, new plants and equipment, and stock repurchases. Big companies bought up dozens of smaller ones. But after laying off thousands during the downturn, many were cautious about adding new jobs.

On the other hand, the news is not good for libraries.

San Jose's budget deficit points to likelihood branch libraries will be open just three days a week. (San Jose Mercury News, 3/2/2011)

Excerpt:   The San Jose Public Library and its numerous branches have been a source of pride for the city and a model for other libraries throughout the country.

Several years ago, all of the branches were open six days a week, with a few open on Sundays. With the recent huge deficits, that number dropped to 5½, more recently to 4½ and after June 30--the end of this fiscal year--it may drop to three days a week.

Depending on the budget--and things don't look good--officials running the library are looking at options, one of which is opening branch library doors three days per week. And while city officials aren't in favor of such a scenario, budget constraints, even with permanent pay and benefit cuts, may cause it to happen.

On Feb. 14, at a city council study session, council members learned of some very grim possibilities. Even if every city employee took a 10 percent pay and benefit cut, that would alleviate only about one-third of the $110 million deficit, leaving the city about $72 million in the hole for fiscal 2011-12.

"This is the ninth year of budget reductions; we have nowhere else to go without cutting programs in order to solve problems of [the deficit's] magnitude. There are no easy solutions," says Tom Manheim, director of communications for the city manager's office.

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